By Greg Perkins
The Lobos didn’t play as well as they have in games leading up to Saturday’s quarterfinal matchup with Empire in the Division IV State Football Tournament, but the end result was all that really matters as Snow-flake moved on to the semifinal round with a hard fought, 21-14 win.
Heading into the game Snowflake may have had the most balanced offensive attack of any team, but Em-pire basically took away Chase Walden’s aerial attack, limiting the senior quarterback to just 57 yards through the air on seven of 10 passing.
With their air attack shut down the Lobos turned to the ground where two runners, Walden and Braccin Tanner, exceeded the hundred-yard barrier behind a solid performance from their offensive line.
Both teams struggled to find any offense through the first half of the opening period when Walden broke free for a 51-yard run, setting up his own four-yard run to give the Lobos a 7-0 lead. Following a missed field goal attempt from the Ravens, Tanner found running room, scoring on a 63-yard run with just over three minutes left in the period, pushing the lead to 14-0, where it remained until the half.
In the third Empire scored on a halfback pass, cutting Snowflake’s lead to just seven. Midway through the fourth Walden capped a long scoring drive, most of which came on running plays, with another four-yard run, giving the Lobos a two-score cushion.
Empire made things interesting late in the game, scoring with under a minute left on a 66-yard touchdown pass. The Ravens’ onside kick attempt was recovered by the Lobos, sealing the win and sending them to the semifinal round where they will face Blue Ridge for the second time this season.
Walden completed seven of 10 passes for only 57 yards. Tanner caught two for 19; Nick Hall, one for 15; Spencer Davis, one for 14; Dallin Merrell, one for nine; and Rick Shumway, two for two.
On the ground, Walden gained 108 yards on 20 runs and Tanner picked up 101 yards on 11 attempts. Shumway gained an additional 30 yards on three tries.
Snowflake will now face top ranked Blue Ridge in the second of two semifinal games to be played on Saturday, Nov. 17, at Washington High School in Phoenix. The Yellowjackets cruised past River Valley 49-0 in their quarterfinal matchup.
Blue Ridge shut out Snowflake 50-0 in their meeting nearly two months ago. In that game the Lobos were down to their second and third string quarterbacks, along with several other key players out with injuries. Blue Ridge is certainly deserving of its top ranking, but the Lobos will have all their weapons when they meet this time. Will it be enough? Only time will tell.
Show Low will meet Seton Catholic in the other semifinal game as the top four seeds in the division all made the semifinal round.
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By Greg Perkins